Mining Ruined Family Field
Let me start out by saying that I have not been a part of any protests that have been going on. I don’t think anyone can foresee if the proposed strip mining will actually harm the swamp. We probably won’t know until many years have passed. Only time will truly tell.
However, I can say that the strip mining by Dupont in Bradford County did do a lot of harm to my Grandfather’s strawberry farm! My Grandfather owned a farm that joined Dupont’s Continue reading
Here are videos of all the speakers, for, against, staff, and Commissioners, at the Thursday Bradford County Commission about Chemours expanding onto SRWMD land in a new Trail Ridge South Mine.
I especially recommend the Commissioner Comments, in which each Commissioner explains his position before the vote.
Below are links to each WWALS video of each speaker, followed by a WWALS video playlist. The videos are unedited. The only gaps are Continue reading
Update 2019-10-19: The rest of the WWALS videos of the entire Public Hearing.
Bradford BOCC voted 3:2 for the Chemours Trail Ridge South titanium mine on SRWMD land. Commissioner Chris Dougherty (District 3) made the motion, Kenny Thompson (District 2) seconded, Frank Durrance (District 5) aye, Danny Riddick (District 4) nay, Ross Chandler (District 1) nay.
Here’s the WWALS video:
Chemours titanium mine expansion, Bradford BOCC 2019-10-17
Video by John S. Quarterman for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS), Bradford County Courthouse, Starke, Florida.
I will post more videos later of the two hours of public comment, including numerous specific citations of faults with the mining application, as well as the very professional-seeming Chemours slide show, which nonetheless omitted important features such as the FDEP Consent Order and whether Twin Pines Minerals is involved.
This is not the end of the story. Several speakers warned them they were setting themselves up for lawsuits about the improper notice of last night’s Public Hearing. According to Chemours, they still need many permits: Continue reading
What is the point of SRWMD buying land if it’s going to let it be strip-mined for titanium?
Yet that’s what the Bradford County, FL, Commission is considering approving this Thursday evening for Chemours, expanding one of the same mines Chemours and Twin Pines Minerals LLC are under a Florida Consent Order for numerous violations.
We hear that this Chemours expansion application for its Trailridge Mine southeast of Starke includes items like a Master Mining Plan and some of what they intend to do with wastewater, which the Twin Pines Minerals application does not for a similar mine near the Okefenokee Swamp in Charlton County, GA, farther north up Trail Ridge, that ancient beach full of stuff miners want to exploit.
Twin Pines site (north in center top) to Chemours Trailridge Mine (south).
See also proposed HPS II phosphate mine site left of center, and existing Nutrien (PCS) phosphate mine in Hamilton County, FL upper left.
Note Jacksonville on the right in the east and Gainesville bottom center.
The Santa Fe River starts near the subject property, and flows west (left) to the Suwannee River.
We don’t know, because the application is not on Bradford County’s website.
When: 6:30 PM, Thursday, October 17, 2019
Where: BRADFORD COUNTY COURTHOUSE, 945 North Temple Avenue, Starke, Florida 32091
Here is the agenda item:
- PUBLIC HEARING – Randy Andrews, Zoning Director.
Chemours Company FC, LLC – Thomas O. Ingram of Sodi & Ingram, PLLC and Daniel LeJeune of Kleinfelder, as acting agents for The Chemours Company FC LLC., and Connie Henderson, Representative for The Chemours FC, LLC.
- Consider approval of a Special Use application — SU 19-02, for a Special Permit for mining submitted by The Chemours Company FC, LLC on lands owned by the Suwannee River Water Management District.
SRWMD owns 2,213.60 acres from just south of Chemours down to a sort of triangle-shaped 107.49-acre bit north of the Keystone Heights Airport.
That Airport is also known as Keystone Airpark, 42J, 29.8447500,-82.0475278. The purple-shaded left part of this WWALS google map is the Santa Fe River Basin, and this Chemours mine expansion appears to be entirely within it.
If you want to speak, here are the rules:
- Public Comments:
- Three (3) minutes per speaker;
- Complete and turn in a public comment card to speak before the start of meeting; (COMMENT CARDS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED AFTER THE MEETING BEGINS)
- State your name and address into the record before speaking;
- Do not speak from the audience;
- Address your questions to the Board, not county staff;
- Refrain from demands for an immediate board response;
- No boisterous behavior; and
- No personal, impertinent or slanderous remarks.
WWALS and Suwannee Riverkeeper know about this Chemours mine expansion application due to a report by Jim Tatum of Our Santa Fe River (OSFR). OSFR got their information from Bradford Environmental Forum (BEF). Paul Still of BEF says BEF plans to put a copy of the application on the BEF website as soon as they can sort out the logistics of getting a multi-megabyte file uploaded on slow rural broadband links.
This aerial I took on October 5th looks south across the Chemours Maxville Mine (the second one counting south from the state line), with Kingsley Lake in the distance.
Those six settling ponds are on the divide between the St. Johns River Basin on the left and the Santa Fe River Basin on the right. So the right-hand side of the picture is in the Santa Fe River Basin. The SRWMD mine of the Bradford County application is in the haze near the horizon.
Do we want more of the Santa Fe River Basin to look like this?
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!
Update 2019-11-07: This blog post published as an op-ed in the Charlton County Herald, October 9, 2019, as Convenience of private profit is no excuse to risk Okefenokee.
It’s the miners who are proposing to risk the Okefenokee Swamp for their private profit, so it’s their job to provide proof, despite what the Twin Pines full page ad in the Charlton County Herald says. Alex Kearns has already made this point for St. Marys Earthkeepers in a letter to the editor. You can comment on the newspaper’s website on that one, or you can send one, too, to: email@example.com.
Yet in our Suwannee Riverkeeper comments to the Corps, we have provided quite a few studies that indicate the risk, including a Florida Consent Order against the same company for similar mines in Florida.
Where are these studies Twin Pines touts in the ad? They were not in Twin Pines’ mining application, as we and many others, including U.S. EPA and GA-EPD have pointed out. When will these miners’ studies be published?
The one Twin Pines hydrogeological study I have been able to find is in a different application that this miners’ ad doesn’t mention: for groundwater withdrawal and use. That study shows the 4.32 million gallons per day the miners’ want (more than twice all the current permitted water withdrawals in Charlton County) would lower the level of the Floridan Aquifer under the Swamp.
At the August 13, 2019 miners’ meeting in Folkston, GA, Steve Ingle claimed the mine would not affect the Floridan Aquifer, and the miners’ hydrologist Mark Tanner claimed there would be no cone of depression under the Swamp, both on video. This was two weeks after the same company had filed its withdrawal application with a hydrology report that clearly depicts a cone of depression extending under the Swamp. A report authored by the same two hydrologists who were at the August 13th meeting: Robert M. Holt and J. Mark Tanner.
The same miners’ hydrologists also repeatedly refused to guarantee there would be no effect on the Suwannee River, despite the ad’s claims of “100% certainty.”
Pretty much every other point in that ad is similarly easily rebuttable.
It’s curious they didn’t mention their biggest selling point: Continue reading
If you can go, please do, this Saturday.
When: 1-5PM, Saturday, September 28, 2019
Where: 10665 SW 89th Ave, Hampton, FL 32044-4201, United States
What: “Where do we stand? How did we get here? What are the next steps?”
By Whom: Bradford Environmental Forum
I’m already double-booked that day, but I recommend others attend.
Much background on the WWALS website.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!
If this and the 27 news articles on radio, TV, and newspapers in Georgia and Florida, several of them carried by Associated Press across the country, plus the ten op-eds and three editorials, is not enough to establish controversy, I wonder what is. Maybe still more comments and news articles and social media?
Nedra Rhone, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 13 September 2019, Mining proposal near Okefenokee draws more than 20K comments from public
The Suwannee Riverkeeper, on Thursday, sent 22 pages of questions to the Corps and the Georgia Department of Environmental Protection asking the agency to deny the permit. The Riverkeeper joined the SELC and other organizations and individuals in asking the Corps to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, the highest level of analysis available when a proposed federal action may significantly affect the quality of the human environment.
Also in that AJC story:
Commenters expressed concerns ranging from the acres of wetlands that would be lost to what they considered inadequate studies conducted to determine the potential impact of the mine.
In a letter to the Corps, the Southern Environmental Law Center said Continue reading
Who wants to boat, fish, bird, or hunt next to a strip mine? PDF
September 12, 2019
To: Col. Daniel Hibner, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District
Attention: Ms. Holly Ross, firstname.lastname@example.org
1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia 31707
Cc: Stephen Wiedl, Wetlands Unit, email@example.com
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division,
Water Protection Branch, 7 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, GA 30334
Re: Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554
Dear Colonel Hibner,
Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) asks USACE:
- to reject the subject Application from Twin Pines Minerals (TPM), given the inappropriate location which would over the years move ever closer to the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers, combined with the numerous omissions from the Application regarding the wide hydrogeologic, water quality, ecologic, and economic ramifications of the proposed mining, and the numerous other mines relevant to the proposal.
If USACE continues to process the Application, WWALS requests USACE:
- to require a complete hydrogeological assessment and report, a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and an economic analysis, with all three covering all the relevant features, mines, and applications in south Georgia and north Florida, including at least those outlined in this letter.
- to accept comments until at least ninety days after all these documents are submitted to USACE and distributed to the public, preferably on USACE’s website, without requiring site visits to Albany to get them.
- to hold public hearings in Georgia and Florida for further independent input and review after sufficient time (months or years) for independent third-party review.
The proposed Charlton County, Georgia, TPM mine site is hydraulically upgradient from the Okefenokee Swamp and within close proximity to the boundary of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR), with its 600,000 visits per year for boating, birding, and fishing, with more than $60 million annual economic effects including hundreds of jobs supported directly or indirectly, plus hunt clubs surrounding the Swamp. The Swamp provides ecosystem services of great economic values, including storm protection, water quality provisioning, support for nursery and habitat for commercial fishing species; and carbon storage, plus those hunt clubs depend on the Swamp. Any pollution of the Swamp or change in surface or groundwater levels could adversely affect not only ONWR and nearby areas, but also the Okefenokee Swamp Park (OSP) near Waycross, in Ware County, GA, and Stephen C. Foster State Park (SCFSP) in Charlton County, via Fargo in Clinch County. Visitors come from Jacksonville, Florida, Brunswick and Valdosta, Georgia, and from much farther away to visit the Okefenokee Swamp. The Swamp is a treasure to the entire nation and the world.
The stigma of a strip mine next to the swamp could cause people to turn away, taking their dollars with them. Who wants to boat, fish, bird, or hunt next to a strip mine?Continue reading
A resolution supporting the TPM mine is on the agenda for the Charlton County Commission meeting, 6PM this Thursday, August 15, 2019, 68 Kingsland Drive, Folkston, GA. Especially if you live in Charlston County, please go to that meeting and object. Even better, contact your County Commissioner before the meeting.
Suwannee Riverkeeper op-ed in the Charlton County Herald, yesterday, August 13, 2019:
Swamp more important than miners under Consent Order in Florida
Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) promises jobs, taxes, and low impact to mine for titanium between Moniac and St. George, on property that extends up to the Okefenokee NWR.
People from Baker, Bradford, and Union Counties, Florida, say they don’t know any locals who have the mine jobs promised by Chemours. The TPM application for Charlton County promises Continue reading
Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) is cited in a consent order on Chemours mines, for failure to collect data, spilling waste through silt fences and not cleaning it up, and being out of compliance on numerous counts, including radium and iron, in the Suwannee, St. Johns, and St. Mary’s River basins in Florida.
This is the same TPM that has applied to mine titanium in Charlton County, Georgia, near the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers.